I love retro first-person shooters. That being said, I don’t love the ones that take their inspiration from Wolfenstein 3D. Wizordum is entering early access and offers a lot of classic FPS gameplay, alongside an attractive pixel-art visual style. The game’s coming out later this month, and we got to take an early look at what it has in store for players as they use magic to blast goblins and more in this old-school fantasy adventure.
Wizordum mostly uses a one-floor playing area, much to my chagrin. You can’t jump, but there are sometimes ways to reach a lower level, just not by falling. You start with a melee weapon before finding magic-themed varieties of standard FPS guns. The dual-casted fireball attack is dual pistols, the rapid-fire ice staff that freezes enemies is a machine gun. The shotgun is a shotgun. Oh, and there’s a big bomb too. Attacks can have secondary effects and enemies die in a gory fashion. You’ll come up against various goblins, imps, tentacles, and more while you make your way through the levels.
The level design is based around classic key-hunting, as you scour the locations trying to find the way forward. The first couple of levels take place in a castle keep-type area. They’re fine, familiar, and fairly short. Anyone who’s played a boomer shooter will immediately feel at home with the game, as it ticks all the usual boxes, save for the less open level design. The third level, however, is a giant, sprawling sewer that requires you to open different gates to make it further. The level design in Wizordum is not at all memorable or interesting and mostly just looks like a collection of assets that have been put down. This is a lot like Wolfenstein 3D, I suppose.
This is my ice stick!
To be blunt, I strongly disliked the sewer level. It’s monotonous, boring and goes on for far too long. It took me nearly 40 minutes and, at one point, the saves broke. Attempting to reload them greeted me with a black screen that required me to load via the auto-save. The following level takes place in a cemetery with frequent lightning flashes. People with photo-sensitivity should be cautious. As far as the shooting goes, Wizordum is just fine, albeit bog standard. It just feels like any game from the era, which is the biggest complaint I’d levy against my time with it. There’s nothing to make it stand out. It mostly just feels like fantasy Wolfenstein 3D, but with worse level design.
There’s just not much in the game to really make it stand apart from similar titles. I do like the way the pixel art looks, but it resembles the pixel art in similar games. The confusing level design combined with how visually redundant everything is puts a giant damper on Wizordum. The game also has a score system for no obvious reason, and I don’t quite understand what the point is.
There’s treasure to collect all over the place, which is fun from a collectathon perspective, but it mostly just feels like another Wolfenstein 3D throwback. I do appreciate that you can increase your health by eating all sorts of things, though, which is usually a great way to increase level flavour.
I’m not sold on Wizordum and the level design doesn’t do much for me. I won’t call it badly made, but it doesn’t exactly make the most of its ambitions, which are mostly held back by the aforementioned level design. If you’re sold on the game’s look, there may be hope yet, so make sure to swing back around and gauge the temperature when the game launches soon.
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